I’ve had the fortune of visiting several waterfalls in Europe and Asia, but I would say the Plitvice Lakes has to be in my terms, ‘properly legit’. The Plitvice Lakes isn’t as broad as the Niagara Falls, neither is it as tall as the waterfalls I’ve been to in Taiwan, but it had one of the most amazing volume and number of waterfalls in a single location.
What I found intriguing were the endless gushing falls, which gave way to foamy bubbles each time the water came into contact with a rock. It was like a washing machine from nature, giving way to what seem to be soap suds floating on the surface of the water.
The Plitvice Lakes isn’t just about the waterfalls. It is also about the water. The azure, clear, green waters, so clear where you could see fish swimming beneath the surface, the feel of the cool water licking your fingers, it’s really the simple things that make you conclude – that the Plitvice Lakes is amazing.
Five things to know about the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia
1. Plitvice Lakes is beautiful, in all seasons
The response to the question, ‘When is the best time to go’, will be met with the answer, all times are good. The Plitvice Lakes are open all year round and is best visited in summer when the daylight hours are longer. It really depends on what you’re looking for – be it green lakes, snow-covered falls or red autumn leaves, the Plitvice Lakes are beautiful throughout the seasons.
2. Short and long trails are available
The Plitvice Lakes can be covered in a day, or if you would prefer to see more of the trails, you could cover it in 2D1N. There are accommodation venues located right outside the park, and some distance away. For a recommendation on affordable accommodation near the lakes, check out the write-up on Villa Jezerka. There is a variety of trails to follow, those that range from 3-4 hours, to the longer trails which last for 6 hours.
3. Kid friendly? Yes, though mind the flooded trails!
The paths are well maintained, and are easy on the knees. I spotted visitors of all demographics including children and toddlers at the park. However, do take note that there are certain areas in which the trails are submerged in water, hence do prepare to get your feet wet!
4. Enter through Entrance Gate 2 – the line is shorter
The park opens at 7am in the morning and it is advisable to head there early to avoid the crowds. Entrance Gate 2 is less crowded in comparison to that of Entrance Gate 1 – that means you get your tickets in double-quick time. The path at Entrance Gate 2 is also less crowded – you get to spend more time with nature : )
5. Getting to Plitvice Lakes National Park – the bus ride is shorter from Zagreb
If you’re planning to travel around Croatia, you could first start with Dubrovnik, move on to Split, the Plitvice Lakes and then leave the country from Zagreb. It’s better to leave from Zagreb rather than travel back to Split as the bus ride is almost twice as long.
Buses are available from the capital of Croatia, Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes (2 – 3 hours, HKR100/ SGD20/ USD14.80). The coach stops at Plitvicka Jezera along the way. From the bus station, Entrance Gate 2 to the Plitvice Lakes National Park is short 5-minutes walk away.
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The Travelling Squid’s Take
What I love most about the Plitvice Lakes is not just the clear green waters, the gushing foaming waterfalls, or water which flows elegantly against the rocks. I love it how unlike some nature reserves where one has to trek for 4 hours to get to a good vantage point, beauty is not hard to come by at the Plitvice Lakes. A 10 minute walk from Entrance Gate 1 and a series of cascading waterfalls await you.
A 15 minute walk from Entrance Gate 2 and you’ll come face to face with clear bluish-green pools of water. So clear that you could see fallen tree trunks, swimming fish and even coins. It is nature’s beauty at its most accessible, great for the elderly, kids and those who are not keen to go on arduous hikes.